Tiger Woods Is Still Part Of EA Sports' Golf Game Plan, But His Presence Is Deminished

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor

Tiger Woods' name, but not his image, appears on the cover of the new EA Sports product.January 4, 2011: Electronic Arts, which has supported its alliance with Tiger Woods during the golfer's personal and professional trials and tribulations over the past year with new products and marketing, will continue to align with Woods in 2011. EA said that the upcoming version of its Tiger Woods PGA Tour videogame franchise will feature Woods, but has added a new major collaboration with the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament.

EA Sports did not specify marketing support. However, one noticeable difference from previous versions is that Woods' image does not appear on the cover of the videogame (although he will appear on the cover of a limited collector's edition version). Analysts see this move as a business decision akin to EA's strategy with the popular Madden NFL franchise, where it is the established name of former NFL head coach and TV analyst John Madden, and no longer the actual presence of Madden himself, that is the driving factor.

According to EA Sports, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters will, for the first time in franchise history, enable players to "step onto the hallowed grounds of Augusta National, experience the rich history and tradition of the Masters Tournament and begin their own journey to capture the most sought-after prize in professional golf – the Green Jacket."

Among other new options available in the videogame is "Tiger at the Masters," where players can "relive each of Tiger’s four wins at the Masters by attempting to equal or beat his scores in each round of the Tournament," according to EA Sports.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is scheduled to go on sale in North America on March 29 and worldwide on April 1, to coincide with the 2011 Masters, which is scheduled for April 4-10. The product  will be available for Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. The Masters and five additional courses will also be included in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 Collector’s Edition, developed exclusively for the PlayStation3 computer entertainment system.

Gamers can play against Tiger Woods at the Masters in the new version of EA Sports' golf product.In 2010, support for its Woods-related golf titles included TV, print and Internet that featured Woods himself. EA Sports continued to feature Woods in marketing even as his personal life became public following his Thanksgiving Day weekend 2009 one-car accident. Nike has also used Woods in marketing, although companies that have ended their ties with the world's most visible golfer include Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade and Procter & Gamble's Gillette.

“I am very happy and excited that the Masters Tournament is featured in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour game,” Woods said in a statement. “This is great for the sport and will connect a new audience with the Masters, a tournament I’ve been fortunate to experience since 1995. Continually growing the visibility of golf is important to attracting newcomers to the sport, and I agree that showcasing the Masters Tournament in the game will bring an entirely new dimension to that approach.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a long-standing partnership between EA Sports and the PGA Tour. EA Sports said that since the launch of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 99 the franchise has sold more than 25 million units worldwide.

“For more than a decade, the Masters Tournament has been the most requested and coveted feature for the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise among our fans,” said Peter Moore, president of EA Sports. “Pairing the No. 1 golf video game franchise with the most prestigious golf tournament in the world is a perfect marriage and we’re thrilled to bring our fans this exciting opportunity to experience Augusta National Golf Club like never before.”

As part of its alliance with EA Sports, the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament has formed the Masters Tournament Foundation, which is designed to annually invest in development programs for the game of golf worldwide. According to Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, 100% of the Augusta National's proceeds from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters will be contributed to the newly created Foundation.

“Our sincere motivation is to draw an even greater audience to this wonderful sport and continue to inspire its growth by building off the success seen in previous versions of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise,” Payne said in a statement. “The beauty of Augusta National and the rich history of the Masters have inspired the dreams of golfers for generations. Three years of collaboration with EA Sports has resulted in a game we feel presents a truly authentic Masters experience.”

"EA Sports, Tiger Woods and the PGA Tour have developed an extremely successful franchise that responds to one of the popular entertainment choices of kids today."

According to Payne, "EA Sports, Tiger Woods and the PGA Tour have developed an extremely successful franchise that responds to one of the popular entertainment choices of kids today. We hope our inclusion will foster an appreciation for the history and traditions of the Masters and inspire the next generation of golfers. Equally important is its ability to help further the mission of the Masters Tournament Foundation with the entirety of its proceeds."

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